Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama Soundbar - B&W Panorama

In terms of scale and speed, the unit's handling of the Mines of Moria sequence is a revelation. Atmospheric echoes create an impressive sense of space and width, and when the Cave Troll bursts into the chamber its clanking chains and blood-curdling roar are suitably bracing but never harsh. The Panorama injects a real sense of drama into the scene that you simply wouldn't get through TV speakers.
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Sparkling high frequency response coaxes out plenty of detail and lends a crisp edge to the effects. Panorama's dedicated centre channel also does a terrific job with dialogue - Galadriel's voice is breathy and ethereal, while Gimli's is convincingly gruff. The system also gets nice and loud without even batting an eyelid.

B&W strived to make the Panorama as good with music as it is with movies and its efforts have paid off. Love and War by Daniel Merriweather on CD is a real treat, lending neck-snapping urgency to the hip-hop beats of Change, as well as reproducing bass notes with expert agility and digging up plenty of detail.
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Verdict

Forgive us for going all Sybil Fawlty and stating the bleedin' obvious, but this is an expensive soundbar - you could get yourself a pretty good 5.1-channel speaker system for the same sort of money, or a rival soundbar for a fraction of the price.

In order to justify it, Panorama needed to knock it out the park in terms of sound quality, and thankfully it does just that - for the most part, anyway. We've never heard a soundbar that musters this much bass, which means you don't need to add a sub, plus the rest of the sound is polished and engaging. Only the unconvincing surround performance lets the side down sonically - Marantz's ES7001 is much better on that score.

But the biggest disappointment is the lack of HDMI inputs and HD audio decoding, which we would have expected at this price - particularly as typical B&W buyers are likely to have Blu-ray players anyway. It's is a surprising oversight from a company normally at the cutting edge of audio technology.

Read more: Best soundbars to buy

Scores In Detail

Performance
9/10
Value
7/10
Features
7/10
Design
9/10

Our Score

8/10
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